During graduation season, all of you seniors prepare to walk across the stage and accept a diploma after years of hard work probably feel ready to conquer the world. Why shouldn’t you? You endured semester after semester of tests, papers, lectures and studying to become knowledgeable in your field. The rest should be a piece of cake, right? Well, not so fast.
As it turns out, there’s quite a bit to learn about the real world that isn’t covered in those college classes. These are things you might have to do a little research on, even though you thought your days of research were over, or things you might just have to learn as you go. Real life isn’t quite a test you can study for, but here are 9 things you should probably brush up on to get started.
1. Doing Taxes
Once a year, the entire world spends their free time filing their taxes and now you get to join the fun. You’ll need things like a W-4 form from your employer and you’ll need to know your social security number. Eeeek!
Sites like TurboTax can help you out by giving you the step-by-step process to do your taxes. You can even hire someone to do them for you. However you decide to go about it, it’s a grown-up thing that you now have to worry about!
2. Getting a Job
This is the ultimate goal for those seniors, but it might not be as easy as you think. Sending out a few resumes won’t automatically land you your dream job. You’re going to have to do things like make follow-up calls, write thank you notes for people who meet with you, give endless handshakes and introduce yourself to multiple receptionists before you might get a job offer.
You should also brush up on your “a time I showed leadership qualities was…” story.
3. Tracking your Credit Score
What even is a credit score? Knowing your credit score and keeping up to date with it is important because it will affect you in the future when you want to buy a home or make another big purchase. It’s affected by your timeliness when paying off credit cards and those pesky student loans that are going to pop right up on you.
Luckily, it’s not too hard to keep track of your credit score. Use sites like CreditKarma or WalletHub to check it regularly. The hard part is actually paying everything on time to keep it up…
4. Getting Up Early
I know I’m not the only one who managed to skip out on 8am classes completely. In college, it’s pretty easy to work your schedule so that 11am is your first class. Your sleep schedule consists of staying up late, sleeping in and taking multiple naps. When you enter the real world, this doesn’t happen anymore. Get ready to set that alarm for 6am every single day and say goodbye to naptime.
5. Planning for Retirement
You’ve heard of a 401k, right? No? Well, it’s just one of the many weird abbreviations you’ll be learning about once you enter the workforce. It’s a way to save for retirement and among many other resources, you’ll want to get familiar with what this means so that you know where your money is going and how to prepare for your future. Last week, you were planning for your bar crawl and this week you’re planning for retirement. Seems unfair, I know.
6. Paying Bills
You might have been paying a few bills in college, but that’s nothing compared to what you’ll be facing in the real world. You’re going to have bills for rent, car insurance, your cell phone, electricity, even garbage. On top of student loans and food and anything else you want to buy.
Staying organized is the best way to stay up to date on the bills you need to pay. Try an app like Mint Bills to make sure you never miss a payment.
7. Filing for Worker’s Comp
If you got a paper cut at school, you took care of it and moved on. But if you happen to get hurt at work, you have to file a claim about it which is a process. Basically everything about being an adult is a process. Nothing is easy anymore, but that’s half the fun!
8. Finding Somewhere to Live
When you graduate, you either move back in with your parents or find somewhere to live. You don’t have on campus housing options anymore. Finding somewhere to live on your own is a big deal. Being a home owner (or an apartment renter) comes with a lot of responsibilities, bills, paperwork and work in general that they don’t teach you in college. The toilet paper roll doesn’t fill itself anymore.
9. Not Getting Validation
In school, you were striving for an A. You got feedback on every test and paper. In the work field, you don’t get feedback as much (or ever). Often, the only feedback you get is when somebody is telling you that you screwed up. Positive feedback isn’t waiting for you around every corner and sometimes that’s a pretty hard transition to make. You’re not fighting for a high GPA anymore. It’s just your job.
So, it seems scary but everybody is in the same boat. With a little prep and research you’ll be able to keep yours from sinking no problem. Welcome to the real world!
More: 10 20-Somethings On What They Wish They Knew When Graduating From College